IPO Market

The first quarter marked a relatively strong start to the year for initial public offerings of U.S. companies, helped in particular by the IPO of social media darling Snap.

Twenty-five companies raised $9.9 billion through IPOs in Q1, the most money in a first quarter in three years. The number of companies that went public was the highest in two years, says Renaissance Capital, the global IPO research firm and investment adviser.

Snap was easily the first-quarter’s largest public debut. The company’s shares priced above their range to raise $3.4 billion, the largest U.S. IPO since Alibaba in 2014. The quarter’s second-largest deal was Blackstone’s $1.5 billion offering of REIT Invitation Homes. Combined, Snap and Invitation Homes raised about half of first-quarter IPO proceeds.

While this year’s opening quarter was far stronger than last year’s, Renaissance Capital admits that the IPO count “fell short of our internal projections.” The research firm pointed out that “acquisitions took out tech unicorn AppDynamics, industrial packaging company Mauser, and CBS Radio, while the still-cautious tech sector waited until after Snap’s IPO gave the greenlight, and a handful of energy companies held back after an end-of-quarter pullback in oil prices.” In addition, two IPOs launched but failed to price: biotech Braeburn Pharmaceuticals and Latin American power producer IC Power.

Sixteen companies also withdrew IPOs in the first quarter, while 33 companies filed for an IPO (9 more than filed for an IPO a year ago). That leaves the IPO pipeline “thinner than average,” says Renaissance, with 62 companies looking to raise a total of $17 billion. Even fewer companies, 32, are in the so-called “active pipeline,” meaning they have submitted new or updated filings in 2017.

However, Renaissance says it expects “a number” of new filers to come from its “Private Company Watchlist,” which includes 50 companies that have filed confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission or have selected banks for IPOs.

This group includes “Altice USA, which is planning a 2017 spinout; enterprise network access control provider Forescout; MapR and Cloudera, both of which provide enterprise data analytics platforms based on Apache Hadoop software; and meal kit delivery company Blue Apron.”

Significant companies likely to price in the second quarter include “high-growth tech companies” Okta and Yext; Brazilian airline Azul; and trucking company Schneider National.

First-quarter IPOs returned 10% on average, the bulk of that on the first day, says Renaissance. The number would have been higher if not for four energy IPOs that ended the quarter below their issuance prices. The Renaissance IPO ETF, a basket of IPO stocks  that have been public for less than two years, returned 11% in the first quarter.

Featured image: Thinkstock

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